Monday, 12 February 2018

Recent Recoveries

As usual, our recent recoveries have included a lot of local Barn Owl movements, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

Perhaps the most interesting recovery of the latest batch we have received is that of a Kingfisher that was ringed at Holme Pierrepont last July. We don't get many recoveries of this species, and the bird in question made a long movement down south and was found in Studland, Dorset in January. It was, unfortunately, dead when picked up.

Another Attenborough Cormorant has been re-sighted, this time a bird colour-ringed in July 2016, seen twice at Rutland water in January.

An Attenborough Heron, ringed in April last year has been found dead in Gower, South Wales in December.

An adult female Pied Flycatcher, caught at a nest-box at our site in Wales last summer, had originally been ringed the previous summer in Herefordshire as a chick.

A House Sparrow, ringed in Gary's Garden as a youngster last June, was found dead in a nearby garden on Christmas Day.

Another bird from Gary's Garden, a Goldfinch, has been controlled by ringers in France, at a site in Wirwignes, pas-de-Calais in December. It had originally been ringed in January.

A Blackbird ringed at the beginning of 2015 at Newthorpe, has been controlled by ringers on the Isle of Wight at Hasely Manor, where the Isle of Wight ringing course is held. It was controlled on the 11th June.

A Long-tailed tit, ringed in some allotments in Leicester in March last year, was controlled by the group at the winter site at Sutton Bonington on the 17th December.

Finally, a Blue Tit ringed in the nest by Birklands ringers in Bestwood Country Park during May last year, has been caught by Mick at his site nearby in November. He also controlled another Birklands Blue Tit on the same day, a 1st year bird that had initially been ringed at the country park in October.


 The Kingfisher that went to Dorset...

Monday, 15 January 2018

Brackenhurst - Sunday 14 January

In between the winds, Duncan, Kev, Kirsten, Sue and myself got another session in at the feeders at Brackenhurst. The weather was cool, calm and cloudy; ideal for ringing. We caught birds steadily over the morning, and finished on a total of 93 birds processed.

Highlights were:-
  • Yellowhammer – 32 birds processed, and we now have had 70+ birds this winter. This is already more than the very mild winters of two and three years ago. So, definitely a correlation between mean temperature and birds coming to the feeders. The oldest retrap was from winter 2013/14.
  • Song Thrush – only our sixth bird in 10 years, but the second of this winter and the first to be caught at the feeders.
  • Great Tit – it's not usual to get an influx of unringed birds this time of year, but 13 is unusual. It shows there’s still stuff to learn about our so called sedentary resident bird species.
  • Chaffinch – we had an old bird originally ringed in winter 2011/12.
  • It can be tricky to determine if Yellowhammers are juveniles or adults. One of the ageing criteria we use is to look for different generations of feathers in their tertials. See photo below which shows a Yellowhammer with different generations, which makes it a juvenile first winter bird.
Species totals (new/retrap) 64/39, total 93: Robin 0/2, Blackbird 3/5, Fieldfare 3/0, Redwing 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Blue Tit 5/11, Great Tit 13/11, Bullfinch 0/1, Chaffinch 3/1, Yellowhammer 22/8, Reed Bunting 1/0.


 Yellowhammer showing two generations of tertials making it a first-winter bird. (JL)

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Brackenhurst, Tuesday 9 January

Diaries and the winds meant this was to be the first New Year visit to the feeders at Brackenhurst. It was a cold, dreich January morning, and we never saw the sun at all. However, Kev spotted a Tawny Owl flying away from us in the gloom as we drove up. We were Duncan, Issie, Kev and myself.

Catching was steady through the session with 70 birds processed. Highlights were:
  • 18 Blue Tits – the highest number for some time.
  • Yellowhammers – nice to finally get amongst them this winter with 26 individuals processed.
  • Uncommon species – Treecreeper and Bullfinch are barely annual at the site, and it was nice to see them in the hand again.
We finished on a total of 70 birds, including 34 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Treecreeper 1/0, Robin 0/2, Goldcrest 1/1, Blue Tit 3/15, Great Tit 1/3, Chaffinch 3/2, Bullfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 20/6.

All of the retraps were first ringed at Brackenhurst, with the oldest retrap a Blue Tit after nearly 4 years, ringed as a juvenile in December 2013 and previously retrapped twice in 2014 at the same site.

Jim Lennon

 Treecreeper (Isabel Connell)

Monday, 8 January 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 7 January

I thought we were going to have a team of nine for the first session of the New Year at Sutton Bonington, but two fell ill and dropped out and I was not feeling 100% (by the evening I had lost my voice). Having baited up the site a couple of times over the holidays and not seen many birds there I thought we may end up with more ringers than birds – and I was nearly right!

It was a bitterly cold day, the wind chill making it particularly unpleasant and ultimately the strength of the wind affected the nets too much, enforcing an early finish. The team consisted of Kirsten, Alex, Duncan, Trish, Jake, Gary and I.

We ended with a catch of just 15 including 6 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Fieldfare 2/0, Redwing 2/0, Blackbird 1/0, Robin 0/5, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 1/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Yellowhammer 1/0. The oldest retrap was from 2015.


Sunday, 7 January 2018

Green Woodpeckers

A quick look through the BTO online ringing and nest recording report shows that around 300 to 400 Green Woodpeckers are ringed annually in Britain and Ireland. A search of our own totals in DemOn (yes, DemOn!) shows that we have ringed 42 new and retrapped 5 Green woodpeckers since 1997.

They are a green-listed bird and by no means rare around here but they are still an unfamiliar bird in the hand and therefore ageing often requires reference to the “Identification Guide to European Non-passerines” by Kevin Baker. However, when faced with single birds of unfamiliar species, it can still be tricky to interpret the descriptions and pictures in this book (unfortunately I still have an “old” copy). But occasionally you get lucky and catch a really helpful bird...

This male Green woodpecker was caught at Hazelford Island on 22 December 2017 and its mixed-age plumage shows very well the different tertial patterns described by Kevin Baker.

Mick P

Monday, 18 December 2017

Brackenhurst, Sunday 17 December

It was another beautiful frosty start at Brack for Jim, Sue and I on Sunday, but with the forecast predicting rain later in the day, we were on borrowed time! Unfortunately as Simon was away, and the students being off for their winter break, the feeders had not been topped up, and were empty following a week of cold weather. This was reflected in the catch round the feeders, with numbers of 'regular' species down. However a good number of blackbirds were caught from around the feeder nets, possibly visiting due to the surrounding land being frozen solid. Otherwise a decent catch of Redwing was made, and a Song thrush was an unusual capture for the site. Rain stopped play around 10:30.

In total 39 birds were caught, of which 13 were retraps. Full totals were (new/retrap): Dunnock (4/1), Robin (4/3), Blackbird (8/1), Song Thrush 1/0, Redwing 8/0, Blue Tit 0/2, Great tit 0/2, Chaffinch 1/1, Yellowhammer 0/2, Reed Bunting 0/1.

A Woodcock was flushed from Orwin's first thing, and the Tawny Owls were noisy in the gloom. A Raven also flew over the feeding station late morning.


Sutton Bonington, Sunday 17 December

I decided to run the session today as Sunday suited more people, despite the later forecasts on Friday suggesting that Saturday would be better. As it turned out the weather on Saturday was better – but maybe the birds would not have been as good! This morning started very cold, frosty and calm, but the clouds were gathering from the start, delaying the dawn for a while. Eventually it started to get light and the sun just appeared fleetingly above the eastern horizon before being covered by the cloud advancing from the west.

Waiting in the frost for the dawn to arrive were Kirsten, Alex, Duncan, Gary and I. The first round was a little disappointing but did include a Fieldfare, always a nice bird to catch and take your mind off the cold. The mince pies Gary brought along were also most welcome.

The next few rounds were better and it looked like we would have a decent catch by the end; even a Woodpigeon stayed in the net waiting to be extracted. Last week we had one in the net but it jumped out as soon as we approached. But then at around 10am the rain started. We headed to the nets and as we got close to the first net I noticed a shape in the net that I had not seen for many years. I nipped under the branches smartish to extract it before it had chance to escape. The last time I saw one of these little beauties in a net was at Widmerpool Hall in 1985. We caught over 50 there in the early 1980s. Although the last time the group ringed one Chris caught it in Clifton Wood in 2005, strangely it was on December 17th! Just the bird to warm up frozen fingers with a peck or two.

Hawfinch (all photos by K. Hemsley)
What a stunning bird, it made us forget the cold but unfortunately not the rain. That persisted so we had to take down by about 10:30 which was a pity but we were not disappointed with the birds we did catch in a much shortened session. We ended with a catch of 38 including 13 retraps and a control Long-tailed Tit. The catch was made up of (new/retrap and control): Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Dunnock 0/1, Robin 1/1, Blue Tit 1/3, Great Tit 0/3, Long-tailed Tit 8/4, Chaffinch 5/1, Greenfinch 2/0, Yellowhammer 1/1, Woodpigeon 1/0, Starling 1/0, Hawfinch 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2014.


Monday, 11 December 2017

Recent recoveries

As usual, several Barn owl recoveries have come through:

- A bird ringed in June last year in Woolsthorpe was controlled at a box at Rutland water in May this year.
- Another ringed at Allington in June last year has been controlled at a box in Thrussington, also in May.
- A bird ringed in Normanton back in 2011 has been found dead 45km away in Tallington, Lincs in August.
- Another, ringed in 2016 in Newstead, has been found dead on the roads, 42km away near Tickhill, South Yorks.
- The latest comes from a bird found dead in Kirkby-in-Ashfield in October, originally ringed in nearby Linby in June the same year.

A Tawny Owl, ringed as an adult at the nest in Bulcote, September 2015, has been found dead in the same locality in September this year.

A Jackdaw, ringed in Lambley in May 2015 was found wounded at a stable in nearby Papplewick in June this year.

J8TN, the Norwegian-ringed Black-headed gull, with a penchant for Nottingham Forest (possibly), has been seen again, returning for its 5th winter at Trent Bridge.

A Chaffinch, ringed by the Whites at Devon Farm in February 2016, has been reported up in County Durham in October this year. Unfortunately the bird, picked up in Bishop Aukland, was dying when found.

A Lesser Redpoll, ringed at Bestwood in November 2016 has been controlled by a ringer in Edwinstowe, this November - not the first SNRG Redpoll to be controlled by this ringer.

2 Blackcap have been controlled at Stanford Reservoir in Northants. both recaptured within a week of one another this September. Both had been ringed within a week of one another at Holme Pierrepont in July this year.

A Reed Warbler, controlled in May this year at Holme Pierrepont, had initially been ringed at Rutland Water only 15 days prior to recapture.

And finally, another Reed Warbler, ringed at Holme Pierrepont as a youngster in August last year, has been controlled this August, down at Poole Harbour in Dorset.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Sutton Bonington, Saturday 9 December

A very cold, calm and clear start to today's session for Jake, Sue, Kirsten, Gary and I. Quite a few birds were around early on but we had only set the main feeder nets because the forecast was for a breezy morning (although this never arrived!) and the pheasant feeder had disappeared anyway.

Catching was steady throughout the first half of the morning and we ended with a catch of 30 including 15 retraps, a little better than the last two weeks. Yellowhammer numbers were up, Chaffinch down and unusually we caught a Starling.

The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 0/2, Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Robin 2/2, Blue Tit 1/5, Great Tit 0/1, Long-tailed Tit 0/2, Chaffinch 2/1, Greenfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 4/2, House Sparrow 1/0, Starling 1/0. The oldest retraps were from 2016.


Sunrise, Ringing station and Starling (S. Lakeman)

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Brackenhurst visits

26 November

A frosty start at Brackenhurst greeted Jim, Tom, Issy and me. Setting the nets in Orwin's in the dark was a challenge, but rewarded by a fleeting glimpse of a Woodcock in the ride. Unfortunately it, like most of the Fieldfares and Redwings around, evaded the nets.

Catching was steady enough to keep us busy at the copse feeder site throughout the morning, with quite a lot of new Chaffinches, despite letting a few go due to leg disease. We found time to cut out a new ride in Orwin's later on as the wind got up and things slowed down. Hopefully this will be useful in the future.

We finished on a total of 29 birds, including 15 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Redwing 1/0, Robin 2/4, Goldcrest 1/1, Blue Tit 1/7, Great Tit 1/3, Chaffinch 7/0, Yellowhammer 1/0. All of the retraps were first ringed at Brackenhurst, with the oldest retrap a Blue Tit after nearly 4 years, ringed as a juvenile in December 2013 and previously retrapped twice in 2014 at the same site.

3 December

A still and overcast morning made Jim, Duncan, Issy and me hopeful of a good catch. Meanwhile, the sheep greeted us, hopeful of some breakfast. We were both eventually rewarded for our optimism. We got the nets up in Orwin's early and there were plenty of thrushes around. They were definitely interested in the tape, but they remained high up in the branches. We also noted a female Sparrowhawk patrolling the area, keeping things moving.

We finished on a total of 44 birds, including 20 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/ retrap): Dunnock 0/3, Robin 1/2, Blackbird 1/0, Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 2/0, Long-tailed tit 1/2, Blue Tit 4/7, Great Tit 5/4, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 4/2, Yellowhammer 4/0.

All of the retraps have been caught at Brackenhurst before, mainly as young birds. The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit, first ringed at Brackenhurst in November 2014 and retrapped 5 times in between at either Orwin's or the copse.

Sue Lakeman

 Blackbird, Yellowhammer, Blue Tit and hungry sheep (I. Connell)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 3 December

The cold weather of the last week had been replaced by quite mild weather when Maria, Jake, Trish, Alex, Gary and I arrived on site this morning. It was overcast with only a light breeze but there did not seem to be very many birds around, I thought there would be more after the last few cold days. We ended with a catch of just 24 including 10 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Redwing 2/0, Robin 0/1, Dunnock 0/1, Blue Tit 1/5, Great Tit 0/2, Chaffinch 9/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 1/0, Reed Bunting 0/1. The oldest retrap was a Blue Tit from 2015.


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Sutton Bonington, Saturday 25 November

After a delayed start this morning due to the heavy sleet shower (which the various weather forecasts had failed to predict) we eventually started to set nets at about 0715. It was a bit breezy and a few occasional bits of drizzle did not help but we were still left wondering, where have all the birds gone?

Maria, Kirsten, Duncan, Gary and I set just the feeder nets and caught far more leaves than birds, though not sure why after a good catch last week. There seemed far less movement of birds generally, even the seemingly ever-present Buzzard did not put in an appearance until we were leaving!

We ended with a catch of just 17 including 5 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 0/1, Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 4/0, Dunnock 1/0, Blue Tit 2/1, Great Tit 2/0, Chaffinch 2/3. The oldest retrap was a Chaffinch from 2016.


 Fieldfare (K. Hemsley)

Monday, 20 November 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 19 November

A glorious, still and frosty morning dawned as we met at Sutton Bonington. Bit of a strange start as Kirsten had trouble locating us and once the gate was open Alex could not get his car to start, so we had to push it on to the campus! Maria, Alex, Sue, Kirsten, Gary and I, along with two guests set 2 extra nets near the pheasant feeder along with the 3 small nets at our feeders.

Things started a little slowly but picked up after the first round and we were pleased to get the first two Yellowhammers of the season plus a Brambling and a couple of Lesser Redpoll.

A few leaves started to fall into the nets as a slight breeze got up towards midday but nothing to interfere with catching. We ended with a catch of 50 including 20 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 0/1, Blackbird 1/0, Robin 0/2, Dunnock 3/1, Blue Tit 5/8, Great Tit 1/3, Long-tailed Tit 1/2, Goldcrest 0/1, Chaffinch 12/2, Lesser Redpoll 2/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Brambling 2/0, House Sparrow 1/0, Yellowhammer 2/0.

The oldest retraps were from 2015. There were good numbers of Chaffinch and a few Yellowhammer around again but no winter thrushes were seen or heard.


 (photos by S. Lakeman)

Lesser Redpoll & Brambling (K. Hemsley)

Brackenhurst, Sunday 19 November

We made our second visit of the season to Brackenhurst today and set up the usual nets at the feeders and Orwin's. We were Duncan, Tom, myself and new ringer, Brendan Noone. The weather was mostly still, but there was a frost in Orwin's which hung on for most of the morning. Over the session we handled 44 birds of 11 species. Catching was steady until 11:00 am.

The most interesting retraps were:-

Robin – two from 2015. Both prefer their own territories, staying put in Orwin's & the feeding site respectively.

Great Tit – the oldest bird was originally ringed in 2012. It's been caught 15 times and seven of those were in November. There do seem to be patterns with resident Brackenhurst birds, with some using the feeders early and others late winter. I suspect over the winter food is most important initially and then towards spring being on a territory starts to supersede this.

Chaffinch – another old male, this time from 2012 and not caught between times.

Totals: 44 birds processed (21 new/23 retrap), comprising:  Greater Spotted Woodpecker 1/1, Dunnock 2/4, Robin 0/3, Blackbird 2/1, Redwing 5/0, Goldcrest 1/1, Blue Tit 1/5, Great Tit 1/6, House Sparrow 1 (pit-tagged), Chaffinch 5/2, Yellowhammer 2/0.


 Great-spotted Woodpecker (T. Shields)

Monday, 13 November 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 12 November

The various weather forecasts tried hard to ruin our visit this week. On Thursday it was going to be calm and dry on Saturday, very windy on Sunday, so I decided to go for Saturday. On Friday morning it was going to rain on Saturday, still windy on Sunday. By Friday early evening it was still going to be raining on Saturday so I cancelled and moved the session to the Sunday despite the windy forecast. When Saturday dawned it was dry, still and overcast, perfect for mist netting, the rain had not materialised. So on Sunday, Maria, Issie, Duncan, Gary and I met at an already breezy site and put up the 3 small nets in the new rides. Then the wind seemed to drop despite the forecast saying it would steadily increase! The wind did start to pick up by the middle of the morning and the nets then filled with leaves.

We did manage a decent catch of 40 including 15 retraps. The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/1, Blackbird 2/0, Robin 1/0, Dunnock 2/0, Blue Tit 6/6, Great Tit 1/2, Long-tailed Tit 4/4, Goldcrest 2/0, Chaffinch 6/2. The oldest retraps were from 2015. There were a few Yellowhammer around again but they are not interested in the seed yet.


 Great Spotted Woodpecker (K. Hemsley)